As energy costs rise, more and more people have turned to goose down quilts for wintertime comfort. Unfortunately, many of us who need to worry about the expense of turning up the thermostat simply can't afford that luxury (such a quilt costs anywhere from $100 to more than $600, depending on its size, the quality of the filling, and the particular sales outlet marketing it), even if it's available in a do-it-yourself kit.
I faced this problem not long ago, and — searching for a solution — I turned to a flannel quilt. Flannel is known for having cozy, cuddly, soft cotton flannel sheets, shirts, and gowns that have kept generations of folks toasty warm through many a freezing season, so (I reasoned) a quilt that was topped and backed with that cloth would certainly be effective in keeping out the cold-weather chills. The inspiration drove me to my scrap bag, my neighbors, and finally, to local fabric shops in search of surplus material.
My plan, you see, was to make a piecework quilt of flannel . . . rather than the usual cotton muslin or broadcloth. The material I gathered came mainly from friends who make infant and toddler clothes, pajamas, nightgowns, and shirts . . . but remnant bins in fabric shops did provide me with pieces that I was able to use to fill in the patterns and carry out the color scheme of my design. Of course, if I hadn't been able to find such giveaways, I could still have finished my project . . . because new flannel is inexpensive enough to allow a thrifty seamstress or seamster to make a comforter from whole cloth.
Selecting a Pattern
Because of the fine nap typical of flannel, I chose quilt patterns composed of large, bold design elements rather than small and intricate pieces. Perhaps the simplest approach of all would have been to sew a comforter with a printed (or plain) flannel tap, a plain backing, and a layer of batting between, all border-stitched and held together with yarn ties every 4 1/2 inches. If you're inexperienced but still would prefer to make a piecework quilt instead of a simple comforter, just sew a patchwork of 4 1/2" squares. Stitch the quadrangles together into nine-patch sections (three rows of three patches each) that — allowing for 1/2" seams — will measure 12" on each side. Sew these large squares together into rows until you have a quilt of the size you desire.
Flannel can be used in traditional patterns too, as the accompanying photo in the Image Galley of the "Flower Basket" quilt illustrates.